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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The One True Way (or Not)

The one thing a lot of writers don't seem to get is that everyone's process is different and that a person should do whatever works for them. Too many, though, believe that because something works for them, everyone should do it and they preach this. In my experience, this seems to be largely hard-core plotters, but I might be slightly biased. :-)

When I was a teenager and trying to learn how to write stories, I checked out a billion library books on the topic--all written by plotters. And all of them left me with the impression that I wouldn't be a real writer unless I followed their method.

At fifteen, I believed them and I struggled to cram my seat-of-the-pants style into their 3x5 index card world. It didn't work. In fact, it made me hate writing. I finally tossed the cards into a drawer and jettisoned their advice. It was either write my way or never write at all. I decided that even if I never was a real writer the way the books said that at least I'd be writing.

This is a driving incident for me and why I have very little patience for writers who extoll the One True Way. Index cards work for some writers, for others it kills their desire to write.

Thinking about this, I guess it makes sense that the plotters write the vast majority of the books on writing. As a pantser, my writing advice wouldn't fill a book. Sit down and write. To the questions of how do you do ______? I shrug and say, I don't know, it just happens.

I'm less of a pantser now than I was before I published, but there's a big difference between having a framework and having an outline. I can't do outlines, but I can do the framing and that's what works for me.